In 2017, After the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, a new bill is known as Paternity Benefit Bill had been proposed by Rajeev Satav, MP from Maharashtra, in the Lok Sabha in September for the benefits of fathers of newborns. The bill states that all workers, including those in the unorganized and private sector, get paternity leave of fifteen days extendable up to three months. It emphasized on equal parental benefits for both the mother and the father. According to his words, “Child care is the joint responsibility of both parents. They must devote time to the newborn to ensure its proper well-being”.
Objective: Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017
The main aim of this bill is to provide benefit to natural parent, adoptive parent, or a person acting in loco parentis to the relevant child. If it is enacted by the Parliament, it will benefit the population of 32 crore men in the labour force (NSSO, 2012 data), including those in the unorganized sector. Introduction of paternity leave will ensure that the mother gets some support from the father during and after childbirth, who is not forced to return to the workforce in order to generate income. At present, the Central employees under the All India and Central Civil Services Rules can avail a paid fifteen day paternity leave which puts India in the top fourteen countries to provide the highest maternity leave and by providing a fifteen days paid paternity leave to all the sectors, India will be in top thirteen countries to provide the highest paternity leave and other associated benefits.
Government Sector Employees: Paternity Leave
There are certain provisions for employees working in government sector to possess benefits of paternity leaves. The Central Government in 1999, by notification under Central Civil Services (Leave) Rule 551 (A) made provisions for paternity leave –
- For a male Central Government employee (including an apprentice and probationer)
- With less than two surviving children
- For a period of 15 days to take care of his wife and new born child.
- He can avail this leave 15 days before or within 6 months from the date of delivery of child.
- If such leave is not availed within the period, it shall be treated as lapsed.
- He shall be paid leave salary equal to the pay last drawn immediately before proceeding on leave.
Private Sector Employees: Paternity Leave
While paternity leave is sanctioned for government employees, there isn’t any such law that mandates private sectors to provide the paternity leaves to its employees. Therefore, paternity leave is open to interpretation by individual companies. Some of the major multinational companies have already taken steps towards implementing the paternity leave through their HR policies. Some of them are –
- Microsoft – 12 weeks of Paternity Leave
- Infosys – 5 days of Paternity Leave
- Facebook – 17 weeks of Paternity Leave
- Starbucks – 2 weeks of Paternity Leave
- TCS – 15 days of Paternity Leave
- Oracle – 5 days of Paternity Leave
- Deloitte – 16 weeks of Paternity Leave
- Novartis – 14 weeks of Paternity Leave
- Johnson and Johnson – 8 weeks of Paternity Leave
- Philips India – 8 weeks of Paternity Leave
Paternity Leave Policies around the World
India comes among 92 countries in the world without any national provisions for paid paternity leave. Nonetheless having the most infant mortality rate, countries like India, Nigeria and China don’t have any provisions of paternity leave to entitle any benefit to fathers. Comparatively, countries with higher infant population like Brazil and most of the European countries have the best parental leave policies.
- Norway: The statutory parental leave is either 49 weeks at 100% salary or 59 weeks at 80% salary to be divided between both parents but with some constraints. The father is entitled to take 2 weeks paid leave when the child is born and must take additional 14 weeks of paid leave before the child turns 3 years of age. The remaining weeks to use are up to the parents how they want to use it.
- Iceland: Both the parents have an independent right to parental leave of three months and also have a joint right to three additional months, which may be either taken by one of the parents or equally divided between them.
- Sweden: Parents are provided the policy of getting 480 days (16 months)of paid parental leave at 80% of their salary. They are also entitled to 180 bonus days in case of twins. Swedish fathers must take at least three of those 16 months. The days do not expire till the time the child reaches age of 8.
- Spain: Fathers are entitled to 30 days paid leave to do justice with fatherhood and bond with the new born child at 100% of covered pay.